Female breadwinning likeliest among women under 24


With a record number of women and ethnic minority MP’s now in power, we’re waiting to see how far up pay equity is on the new political agenda. Research shows equal pay for the next generation, particularly the growing number of young women who are already the main earners, is more vital than ever. Certainly the recent budget cuts to child credits won’t help.
A recent UK survey, by insurers LV, of more than 2,000 people shows that 1 in 4 young women (under 24) out-earn their male partners. The study also found that of all age groups, 1 in 5 women is now the family breadwinner. But this isn’t a sign of gender equality, because female earnings: “begin to dip after the age of 30 – the average age at which a woman gives birth and starts to bring up young families, while men earn more after the age of 40,” explains Steve Doughty in the DailyMail.

Interestingly, the survey suggests the sexes handle the responsibility differently: 43% of women and just 34% of men were stressed by being the main earner. The reason for the difference is probably twofold: men are more likely to have been raised with the expectation they’d ‘bring home the bacon’; doing so feels like a ‘natural’ responsibility and their ‘manly’ duty. Secondly in our experience, women, particularly high achievers, plan ahead. They may be envisioning a future where the arrival of their own children means they will take a step back; difficult if the money is made by mum, not dad. Plus the flattening of wages and the rise of in-work poverty means it takes two incomes to survive for any family – no doubt adding to her stress.

According to MomsRising.org, the wage gap is wider between mothers and non-mothers than between women and men in the US – a trend we discuss in the next piece. Women without children earn 10% less than men, while mothers earn a staggering 27% less than men. The gap is even wider for lesbians and women of colour. All of this has serious implications for families who rely on a woman’s income, which is most families. To create a more just society, fixing the pay gap is the only way to will ensure all workers, male and female, can support themselves and their loved ones.

Baby coming after this weekend? How new family leave will affect you

dad's sharing parental leave, female breadwinnersOne of our Female Breadwinner readers, Lily Donaldson, helped Money.co.uk write a guide on Shared Parental Leave (SPL) after she missed out on the benefits afforded parents having a child after April 5 of this year. In her article she explains: ‘Until now, partners were entitled to two weeks of standard paternity leave, and while additional paternity leave of 26 weeks was also available, only one in 50 used the additional leave. With the introduction of SPL couples will now be able to share 52 weeks of leave between them when they have a baby or adopt.’

This is a boon for female breadwinners in particular as mothers can share their allowance with their partners and return to work more quickly. Before, mums had to wait until 20 weeks after the child was born before passing leave on to her partner. SP Fathers will still be able to take two weeks of paternity leave straight after the child is born that won’t count towards your SPL entitlement. However, additional paternity leave has been replaced by SPL. Let’s watch this space to see if this enables men to actually take more leave…and for employers to understand that families are raised by more than just mothers.

For ambitious woman, is the smart money on seeking a second fiddle spouse?

couple1-e1421849361535While most women and men claim to seek egalitarian relationships, there is at least one group of men who predict at the outset they won’t end up in these idylls. And is there something for modern women to learn from them? Harvard Business School recently surveyed 25,000 recent alums and found that it’s male graduates predicted they’d end up in traditional, 1950’s style nuclear families. The women on the other hand sought out egalitarian relationships – and were more frequently disappointed with their career progress. Rather than see Harvard men simply as sexist, would we do better to view them as pragmatic for today’s institutions – and copy them instead?  These men had spent 2 years studying what it took to develop successful careers and businesses and probably saw how senior people need a good team – in and outside the office.

As explained in Catherine Rampell’s piece in the Washington Post ‘Stuck in the 1950’s’: ‘They’re also members of a socioeconomic class that invests substantially more in their children today than in the past, meaning they may feel the need to have a spouse who has the time to be an active parent.’ We at Female Breadwinners are championing a more egalitarian workplace, where two partners can each have fulfilling careers and an active home life. But until that happens, perhaps the savviest women will be those who seek smart men who’d be willing to play second fiddle to an ambitious woman.

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